Gene bank uses student research

By Justine Goode

The sequences from a DNA barcoding project done by Genetics and Biotechnology students last year were published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s Gene Bank on Sept. 29. The project, called the DNA Barcode of Life, was done in association with the Coastal Marine Biolabs, where students put to use techniques they learned in science teacher David Hinden’s class. The project was part of a worldwide initiative designed to permit population studies and ecological management for the kelp forests off the Channel Islands, Hinden said.

DNA barcoding is a tool for taxonomic research that provides a way to identify the species of a plant, animal or fungus. Barcodes are compiled into a global, open access library, allowing the barcode of an unidentified specimen to be matched with a species in the library. The class spent two weeks during second semester extracting DNA from rockfish, which they then isolated, amplified and sent to a lab for sequencing.

“We compared the code going forwards and backwards to see if we could fill in the spaces that were empty in each using the complements,” Patrick Kang ’12 said.

Students participated in a weekend trip to the Coastal Marine Biolabs in Ventura.

About half the students successfully got results and submitted their sequences to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, including Sahar Bardi ’11, Gabe de la Rosa ’12, Sarah Fiskin ’11, Rachel Hall ’11, Kang, Alethia Kim ’12, Jack Law-Warschaw ’12, Sophia Lee ’11, Mitch Oei ’11, Emma Sczudlo ’11 and Meagan Wang ’12.

“It’s very cool to see your name,” Hinden said. “This is the kind of thing that could go in your résumé for your future. If you do something in science, it’s not too early to start.”